Controversy in Greek Tragedy Medea

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Controversy in Greek Tragedy Medea

The Greek tragedy Medea is a tale of a woman scorn and the wrath that follows. The story is one of outright deceit, crippling revenge and questionable justice. It is typical of Greek tragedies in its simplicity, but atypical in the way it justifies horrific revenge. Medea is one of Euripides' most enduring plays. It and only a handful of others have survived the several thousand years since their conception.

Medea is a typical Greek tragedy. The opening monologue sets the stage for the rest of the play, a typical prologue. The speaking characters can be played by a few as four actors, each wearing a mask to identify themselves to the audience. All of the action takes place in front of Medea's home, which would allow for a very simple set. The most complicated scene comes at the end of the play when Medea flies to Athens on a chariot pulled by dragons. Euripides could have used a mechane to lift her and the bodies of her children off the stage. There are several violent deaths in this story. All violence takes place off stage, in the case of the death of Creon and his daughter, a messenger brings the news to Medea and the audience. When Medea murders her children, the children's voices can be heard from offstage and the chorus debates saving them. In both cases the violence is described, but never shown, characteristic of Greek tragedy.

The subject matter and the way Euripides presents Medea is what makes this play atypical of Greek theatre. Euripides was not especially popular during his lifetime. Aristophanes and others constantly mocked him in their comedies because of his condemnation of war during the Peloponnesian War. Euripides was also skeptical of the standard religious practices of the era, distancing himself even further from the general public1. Medea is a prime example of Euripides' style of playwriting.

Medea is a woman who murdered her brother and left her homeland to be with Jason, her love and eventual husband. After she bears him two children he leaves her and marries the daughter of the King of Corinth. Medea then proceeds to use her children to deliver gifts laced with violent poison to the princess. The princess dies and so does her father.